Spider eating spider – it is the ultimate death match. Which spiders like to feast on other spiders? Which spiders have a thing for really rough sex? Spider cannibalism is quite common, but some have it down to a fine art.
There is basically three different scenarios that lead to the situation of spider eating spider. These are sexual cannibalism, Spider specific hunting and opportunistic cannibalism. We will look at each instance of spider eating spider individually with examples for each situation.
Spider Eating Spider – Sexual Cannibalism
Spiders already have an image problem. They are basically seen as nasty little critters with a very limited fan base. The phenomenon of sexual cannibalism amongst certain species of spider does nothing to improve their reputation.
While sexual cannibalism is not the most common cause of spider eating spider, it is the most chilling. It occurs when the male and female spider mate, and during the process the male spider is killed and eaten by the female. It is the thing nightmares are made of!
Not all spider species, in fact very few, experience this deadly tension in their sexual relationships. The most prolific of the husband eaters are the species belonging to the latrodectus family. These include the Black Widow (wonder how she got that name?) and the Red Back spiders. There are studies that claim up to 65% of male Red Back spiders are eaten during the act of mating.
The cause of spider eating spider during mating is not completely understood. Nor should the blame be put solely on the female spider. It is not unusual for the male to seemingly offer himself for consumption! I have heard of performance anxiety, but not to this extreme!!
The most likely causes for sexual cannibalism are to provide sustenance to the female during pregnancy. There is also the theory that once a female eats a male she is less likely to mate again, so the male is increasing his chances of passing on his genetic line.
Spider Eating Spider – The Spider Hunters
Not all spiders sit in a neat little web hung between two trees waiting for a fly or moth to fly helplessly into it. Some spiders are born killers who prefer the sport of hunting and killing their own kind. It seems humans aren’t the only screwed up species on Earth that like to kill each other.
There are several species of spider throughout the world that go out of their way to hunt, kill and eat other spiders. For these species of spider, eating other spiders is not a portion of their diet, it is their only diet.
The White Tailed spider of Australia is one such spider eating spider. It goes out at night hunting down other spiders on whom it may snack. This particular spider is not particularly sophisticated in their hunting methods. They simply attack their prey hoping to overpower and bite bite them. They have a bad reputation, which is not scientifically confirmed, for causing necroses in humans, much like the brown recluse spider of the U.S.
The Pale Spitting Spider of South east Asia captures other spiders by spitting a mixture of sticky silk and venom from its fangs. The Spitting spider actually has very poor eyesight and, ironically, it often becomes a meal for other spiders by accidentally wandering into their webs.
Jumping spiders belonging to the Portia genus are probably the best known spider eating spider family. They seem to use hunting tactics that show a level of intelligence, and they also appear to learn from their mistakes. They will wait for wind to run across a spiders web so as to not give their presence away. They use different tactics depending on the type of spider that they are hunting.
Spider Eating Spider – Opportunistic Cannibalism
Spiders are not fussy eaters. Sure some have preferences, but for the main part they will eat what comes across their path. And apart from Bagheera Kiplingi, which is the only known herbivorous spider, all spiders will eat other spiders if they happen to catch one. Obviously the smaller spiders are more likely to become meals for the larger spiders. But even small spiders do on occasion capture much larger spiders in their webs and find themselves feasting on their big cousins. Spider eating spider – Well it is a dog eat dog world out there!
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